A vaccination compensation scheme is a step in the right direction but falls short of a comprehensive plan to overcome vaccine hesitancy, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
“Preventing legal claims may be a great reassurance to doctors and nurses administering the vaccine but will fail to overcome vaccine hesitancy unless it also compensates those injured in full,” said Mr Graham Droppert SC, National President, ALA.
“It is essential the people who are willing to do what is required for the common good know that they can seek full compensation if they experience an adverse reaction so they are not left carrying the financial losses without remedy. We support a no-fault scheme to provide immediate financial support to cover the costs incurred by the injured individual.”
A vaccination compensation scheme was briefly announced following an emergency National Cabinet meeting earlier this week.
“We need to see the detail of the scheme as soon as possible as recent no-fault schemes have disadvantaged individuals. The government must consult broadly to ensure the scheme is structured so that people are not worse off under the scheme than without it,” said Mr Droppert SC.
“It is important that the scheme does not prejudice existing workplace rights or other legislative entitlements and does not exclude an injured individual from receiving full compensation if they have been injured by negligent advice or negligent administration of the vaccine.
“The Federal Government has provided financial support to businesses to protect them from COVID-19 losses. We should also be able to afford to protect the small number of individuals who may come to suffer physical injury as a result of the vaccine.
“The ongoing impacts of complications could be serious and may not be covered by Medicare or the National Disability Insurance Scheme. There could also be major loss of income and longer-term disabilities.An individual and their family may incur other financial losses as well as suffering significant distress.
“A vaccine compensation scheme is especially critical now as the Government is insisting on mandatory vaccination for people working in some specific industries, such as aged care.”